A Case Study in Conservative Mendacity

by: Daniel De Groot

Sun Jul 06, 2008 at 16:15

I noted last night that a supply of uranium from Iraq had been successfully moved to Montreal in secrecy.

If you check into this, you'll quickly find that the uranium a) was not weapons grade and b) was well known to the UN and IAEA and was being stored legally by Saddam's government.  It was legally in Iraq according to international law.

I wondered if the right wing echo chamber would use this as "proof" that the WMD claims were true after all.  I got even better than I hoped, as not only do they use it that way, but they reveal how dishonest they are by the way they have done this.

Daniel De Groot :: A Case Study in Conservative Mendacity
Top recommended post at Redstate:

Yellowcake uranium found in Iraq, Saddam's legacy, Bush was right!

I don't even need to quote the post itself.  The title says enough.  Now so far the post is merely delusional, rather than dishonest, but wait, the second comment and reply resolves that conundrum:

 Hold your horses  by SteveLA

Orion Blaster

You might want to hold your horses a bit on this. This yellow cake referenced in this story was known to International Arms Inspectors, and had been under control sense 1992, after the Gulf war. I beleive Hans Brix and his merry band of men and women had inspected and knew about this stuff.

Oops.  Well that's not going to slow RedState down, the title of the first reply to this far-too-factual deflation of a good myth:

It goes towards dispelling the idea there was none there

Ah yes, see, since some people know Iraq had no WMDs in 2003, we should lie to them by confusing legally stored regulated reactor grade uranium with bomb grade secret reserves of the stuff that Saddam didn't have.

So that's RedState.  Note again this is a top recommended post not merely any old diary falling off the list in obscurity.  But I will look at a couple prominent right wing bloggers.  We find the technique a little less hamfisted.  The master of misleading himself, Instapundit:


   The last major remnant of Saddam Hussein's nuclear program _ a huge stockpile of concentrated natural uranium _ reached a Canadian port Saturday to complete a secret U.S. operation that included a two-week airlift from Baghdad and a ship voyage crossing two oceans.

   The removal of 550 metric tons of "yellowcake" _ the seed material for higher-grade nuclear enrichment _ was a significant step toward closing the books on Saddam's nuclear legacy. It also brought relief to U.S. and Iraqi authorities who had worried the cache would reach insurgents or smugglers crossing to Iran to aid its nuclear ambitions.

Read the whole thing.

See, Reynolds never comes out and says this vindicates Bush's WMD lies, just implies it with his sarcasm about Saddam's "non-existent" nuclear program.  Saddam of course had a nuclear program, the one the Israelis bombed into oblivion in 1981.  In 2002, he had no such program.  For the minority that do take Reynold's tacked on advice to "read the whole thing" they will learn that:

Israeli warplanes bombed a reactor project at the site in 1981. Later, U.N. inspectors documented and safeguarded the yellowcake, which had been stored in aging drums and containers since before the 1991 Gulf War. There was no evidence of any yellowcake dating from after 1991, the official said.

Causus Casus beli, this ain't.

Over at Protein Wisdom, we find similar tact tack of hiding behind snark to avoid blatantly lying to your readers, but still knowing many of them will get the wrong idea:

Now, before you dull, neocon chickenhawk dupes (whose gullibility encouraged smarter and more discriminating Dem congresspeople to set aside their concerns and their principles and vote us overwhelmingly into a fake war based on the lying lies of lying liars who lied) get to feeling all vindicatey, please note that yellowcake itself - even 550 metric tons of the stuff - is not, without further enrichment, capable of causing anything more than a panic. And Saddam was far too busy writing romance novels and terrorizing Kurds and Marsh Arabs to even dream about further enriching the stuff.

I've read that a couple times and I'm not 100% sure I understand his point, because there are several layers of sarcasm and bitterness here directed all over the place.  Buried in all the scorn for people who acknowledge the obvious that Bush was lying, is an acknowledgement that the uranium was not weapons grade or even dirty bomb grade.  He immediately discounts this point with some paranoia that Saddam would eventually have purified it further.

The sarcasm works to diffuse his denial of the vindication aspect.  He's effectively saying "even though it's not the WMDs Bush lied about, it could have been under some hypothetical scenario and then the war would have been justified, ergo, the war was justified"

John McCain says he hates bloggers.  I notice he didn't specify only left-wing bloggers, hmm.

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PSSST!!! Don't Look Now - But Saddam had THOUSANDS OF TONS OF YELLOWCAKE (4.00 / 1)
One of the worst crimes of intellectual cowardice I have ever seen is how upon hearing mentions that Saddam might have sought low grade ('yellowcake') uranium from Niger, no one sees fit to mention immediately that Iraq already possessed thousands and thousands of tons of uranium.

If you feared that one day Saddam might possess nuclear weaponry, it wasn't a lack of uranium but a lack of technology which hindered the program, and then it was forcibly shut down.

In fact, in 1981 and 1982, Iraq had already imported from Niger 300 tons of yellowcake uranium.

From the IAEA's Iraq Nuclear Verification Office

Indigenous production and overt procurement of uranium compounds

* Imported 4,006 kg of natural uranium and 6,005 kg of depleted uranium (DU) from Italy in 1979
* Imported 1,767 kg low enriched uranium (LEU) from Italy in 1982
* Imported almost 50 kg of highly enriched uranium (HEU) from Russia and France
* Procured 429 drums containing 138,098 kg yellowcake from Portugal in 1980
* Procured 487 drums containing 148,348 kg yellowcake from Portugal in 1982
* Procured 432 drums containing 137,435 kg of yellowcake from Niger in 1981
* Procured 426 drums containing 139,409 kg of yellowcake from Niger in 1982
* Imported 24,260 kg of uranium dioxide from Brazil between 1981-82
* Produced 109 tonnes of uranium in 168 tonnes of yellowcake at Al Qaim uranium recovery plant, which was constructed between 1982-84
* Produced 420 drums containing 99,457 kg uranium dioxide at Al Jesira uranium conversion facility
* Produced UF6 at Rashdiya Engineering and Design Centre
* Processed uranium dioxide to produce UF4, uranium metal and UF6 at Tuwaitha Chemical Laboratories
* Processed UO2 and yellowcake to produce UO2, U3O8, UO3, UO4, UF4, and uranium metal at Tuwaitha
* Experimental Research Laboratory for Fuel Fabrication
* Processed UO2 to produce UCl4 at Tuwaitha Chemical Engineering Research laboratories

The press is scientifically illiterate (4.00 / 2)
they are either unwilling or unable to explain the difference between weapons and non weapons grade uranium, to explain the technology behind getting a concussive blast necessary to get the pressures needed for fission, nor to explain how complicated, expensive and difficult a process uranium enrichment [those aluminium tubes of death?  They were supposedly part of a centrifuge where you took uranium (a metal), converted it to gas phase, and then spun it, until the heavier U-238 got sorted from the lighter U-235.  Sound inefficient, time consuming and expensive to you?)

[ Parent ]
I'm not scientifically literate in the literal sense... (4.00 / 1)
...but the minimal necessary part of the Iraq / Niger / Yellowcake to be at all scary would be the requirement that Iraq didn't already have gigantic stockpiles of it.

That's not a scientific literacy question -- it's a basic empirical fact + plot device question.

I mean, let's say you have a movie, and the plot involves the terrorists trying to acquire radioactive materials.  You're going along, watching the movie, getting all scared as they get closer and closer to sneaking this radioactive materials from the secret government facility, and then all of a sudden the movie reveals that the terrorists already have thousands of tons of the stuff and they can't seem to figure out what to do with it.  Yet the movie keeps going.

Your question would be, 'Why am I here watching this stupid, pointless movie?  They just undermined the whole frightening tension of the movie.  Didn't any of the writers think about this?'

You might even ask for your money back.

But not our $Billion dollar major news corporations.  They get to act dumb as rocks and then get mad at us for their declining viewer and reader numbers.

[ Parent ]
hmm, not exactly (0.00 / 0)
This uranium was sealed by the IAEA.  Iraq couldn't easily use it for secret weapons programs.  However if they obtained a new supply they could keep secret, that they could use for weapons.

[ Parent ]
I So Remember Sputtering in Exasperation Over This Very Fact (0.00 / 0)
But, then, attacking bin Laden's sworn enemy for any reason whatsoever never made a heck of a lot of sense in the first place, anyway.

Hey, I know!  Let's go to Mars!

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Actually, I like yellowcake (4.00 / 1)
Especially with vanilla frosting.  Buttercream frosting, I hasten to add.

Mmmmm.... Yellowcake! (0.00 / 0)
[Homer Voice]: Aaaargh!

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
I think we can add (0.00 / 0)
The ironically named American Thinker

Disconfirmations Disconfirmed: Saddam Had Nuke Program (Updated)

These people have serious reading comprehension problems.   This is just like when they saw the story about the 80's era chemical munitions that Santorum and co wanted convince people that they've found the WMD's.  


Casus Beli, tack (4.00 / 1)
Causus beli, this ain't.

You mean "Casus belli", "case for war".

Over at Protein Wisdom, we find [a] similar tact

The word is "tack", as in tacking a sailboat. I doubt you'll find much tact at Protein Wisdom.

I believe I can fly.

Not Many Tacks Their, Either, I'm Afraid (0.00 / 0)
None too sharp, IMHO.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Fascinating (0.00 / 0)
You're a pretty fascinating case study yourself.

The title of the article is "A Case Study in Conservative Mendacity." The article itself demonstrates that a single Redstate contributor (it's a community site, like DailyKos) posted an article that highlights the yellowcake -- and a commenter corrected him. Shame, shame on Redstate for highlighting the post; they weren't careful.

The rest of the article documents that none of the excerpted bloggers made any misstatement at all about the incident. So where, exactly, is the mendacity, apart from the title of your article?

Ah, I see. You know what they're thinking:

we find similar tact (sic) of hiding behind snark to avoid blatantly lying to your readers, but still knowing many of them will get the wrong idea:

Not sure if you meant "tack" or "tactic," but the main point is that the mendacity that we're supposed to get ourselved exercised about, exists solely in what you imagine Protein Wisdom was thinking.

Causus crimen, this ain't.

For anybody who actually wants to know facts about Iraq's WMD programs, I recommend two relevant documents:

1) Here's the British government dossier on Iraq's WMD programs from 2002. It concurs with everything the Bush administration said about Iraq's programs.


2) Here's US inspector David Kay's testimony before the CIA concerning what he found of Iraq's WMD programs after the US invasion. It documents ongoing biological and chemical weapons programs. The only thing that was not found was the expected stockpile of chemical weapons; the programs were there, and ongoing.


The notion that there were no weapons programs, and that the President lied about them to go to war, is the real mendacity here. Read the documents for yourself, and draw the obvious conclusions.

Speaking of british documents (0.00 / 0)
You might have heard of the Downing Street Memos, which reveal that it was in fact, all bullshit:

Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.

Your CIA link is dead.

The British government's 2002 dossier isn't exactly vindication of anything since it was part of the lies anyway.

Let's not forget Donald Rumsfeld's "we know where they are" speech either.  

[ Parent ]
Sorry, you're wrong. (4.00 / 1)

Iraq had a robust weapons program up to Gulf War 1, supported in part by guess who.


The opening statement of the U.S. Senate's Riegle Report from 1994.

In October 1992, the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, which has Senate oversight responsibility for the Export Administration Act (EAA), held an Inquiry into the U.S. export policy to Iraq prior to the Persian Gulf War. During that hearing it was learned that UN inspectors identified many U.S.- manufactured items exported pursuant to licenses issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce that were used to further Iraq's chemical and nuclear weapons development and missile delivery system development programs.

Read Scott Ritter's Iraq Confidential for a detailed assessment of Iraqi weapons programs from the early to late 1990's.  It will give you far more insight than the dodgy dossier.  


Product Description

Scott Ritter is the straight-talking former marine officer who the CIA wants to silence. After the 1991 Gulf War, Ritter helped lead the UN weapons inspections of Iraq and found himself at the center of a dangerous game between the Iraqi and US regimes. As Ritter reveals in this explosive book, Washington was only interested in disarmament as a tool for its own agenda. Operating in a fog of espionage and counter-espionage, Ritter and his team were determined to find out the truth about Iraq's WMD. The CIA were equally determined to stop them. The truth, as we now know, was that Iraq was playing a deadly game of double-bluff, and actually had no WMD. But to have revealed this would have derailed America's drive for regime change. Iraq Confidential charts the disillusionment of a staunch patriot who came to realize that his own government sought to undermine effective arms control in the Middle East. Ritter shows us a world of deceit and betrayal in which nothing is as it seems. A host of characters from Mossad, MI6 and the CIA pepper this powerful narrative, which contains revelations that will permanently affect the ongoing debates about Iraq.
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Or, James Risen's State of War.


The book's disclosures about secret prisons, "renditions"-the transfer of suspects to countries which may torture them-and domestic wiretaps are likely to be talking points for some time, but its lasting value will be as a record of how the CIA came so tantalizingly close to the truth about Iraq's nonexistent nuclear arsenal. The retelling of one undercover operation shows the agency had direct evidence that there was no nuclear program in Iraq, but chose to doubt its source.

There are far too many issues to go into here, but the truth is that Iraq dismantled its major weapons programs in 1991 and did not reconstitute them.  That's not to say they had no hopes for doing so, but at the time prior to Gulf War 2 they had absolutely no capability for doing so, and CIA had covertly interviewed 30 Iraqi scientists in country who all testified that there was nothing.  

The only so-called "intelligence" saying there was something was the BS coming from Chalabi into the Pentagon, which was funding the INC to enable this disinformation campaign. No one else would deal with him because he was recognized as a political opportunist.

The real irony of this whole Iraq WMD bullshit scam, is that the US NEVER GAVE A FLYING FUCK whether there actually was an active program, from 1991 on through 2003, they never actually cared.  They manipulated the UN sanctions the entire time in an effort to undermine Saddam's administration, and in fact they undermined the UNSCOM inspectors wherever possible so as to PREVENT them from ever reaching a verifiable conclusion.  They (Clinton and Bush) didn't want an answer, they wanted sanctions.

Do you know why the US didn't have any intelligence assets inside Iraq prior to Gulf War 2?  They used them up in an assassination attempt on Saddam that was disguised inside the UNSCOM inspections.  The Iraqis rolled it up and killed about 100 US assets, and we never recovered.

Now, if you don't think Bush lied to you, you don't have a clue as to the political game these asswipes have been playing.  

Ask yourself this question, which the media has never seemed to ask.  If the Niger yellowcake documents were forgeries, who forged them?  There are any number of resources that discuss this, here's one:


Where did the forgeries come from? The documents had first surfaced in Italy, and in July, 2005 the Italian Parliament released a report naming four men as the likely forgers of the documents; Michael Ledeen, Dewey Clarridge, Ahmed Chalabi and Francis Brookes. Ahmed Chalabi is the former bank embezzler who was at one time expected to lead Iraq in the post-Saddam period. Of the remaining men, Michael Ledeen deserves special note. Shortly before the forged documents surfaced in Italy, Michael Ledeen paid a visit to the head of Italy's secret service, SISMI. Ledeen's entourage included Larry Franklin, since exposed as a spy for Israel operating in the Pentagon Office of Special Plans, an operational partner to the White House Iraq Group charged with "selling" the war in Iraq to the American people.

Remember the film clip of Bush looking around the oval office for the WMD?  Maybe now you can understand the context and the contempt for the American public that was displayed with that action.

[ Parent ]

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